Pic: Tania Apolinar (@apollenair)
Bliss Point is a New York label, party, mixed media series, and newsletter. It's a promising brand with a penchant for deep and ethereal electronics, dubbing, and more. We have had the pleasure of being able to speak with the dj, producer and architect of this interesting project: Max.
Hi Max, how are you? How are you coping with your musical projects with the pandemic? Hi, I'm well, thank you. Overall I've managed to stay busy with my projects over this unusual period, although there have been challenging moments. Like everyone involved with club music, I've been forced to confront what this music is without a dancefloor, and that was destabilizing at times. The memory of a great night out began to fade, and inspiration was harder to come by. But now with venues opening again, I feel cautiously optimistic. I'm excited to be out playing and dancing again. When did you decide to venture professionally into electronic music? And when did you decide to venture out with a record label? I've been working on creating electronic music for several years now, though I only began releasing music in 2019. It took me quite a long time to feel what I was making was worth releasing. Bliss Point was born as a way to overcome this issue. I had always wanted to start a label, so I committed myself to putting out a 12" of my own, which meant not only finishing, but mastering and pressing four tracks. This was a considerable financial investment for me, which meant I couldn't afford to abandon my music anymore. How was Bliss Point born? What is the concept you want to convey with the label? I've found a lot of comfort and joy in dance music both in and out of a club setting, so I wanted Bliss Point to be a home for textural, emotional, occasionally leftfield sounds, typically with both the dancefloor and headphone listening in mind. The unofficial tagline of the label is "Bliss Point is a place you can go" - it's a conscious embrace of escapism, which club culture is often criticized for encouraging. To me, escaping the grinding reality of one's life, giving the mind and body space to roam, seems vital. I don't see this as a turning away from the world, but as a chance to feel or imagine something new. What is your criteria for selecting artists? What sound do you want to transmit? My only criteria for selecting artists for the label and mix series is that their music resonates with me and that I believe Bliss Point is a good partner for bringing it to the public. Duane Island was a friend before we worked together; some collaborations, like with Kyoto-based producer Ko Yang, began as chance encounters. I do try to make a habit of reaching out to artists I admire, which I've found is typically received kindly. I might write someone a note to tell them how much I love their work, which always feels good and worth the time. Sometimes that's all it is, which is great; other times this has led to collaboration. Could you tell us about Duane Island and his latest work: Solar Effect? What do you appreciate the most about this release? How much has your label evolved since the beginning? Duane Island is the project of Dan Komanoff, a friend and collaborator here in New York. Dan has a very open and uninhibited musical mind, and has already developed a style and musical language of his own. What I admire about this release is how free it sounds. The title track is totally unhinged - can you imagine hearing that bassline in a club? I love this kind of moment at a party, when you turn fto the friend dancing next to you and say, "Wait, what is this? What is happening right now?!" As for the evolution of the label Bliss Point, I think it has been growing naturally. I am very excited to be releasing more music from new artists. Sonically, I have a sense of the identity of the label, but I also want it to remain open. I don't ever want to know exactly what Bliss Point is.
What do you value the most about a set? And a club? What sounds turn you on? For me, a great set is less about a particular sound, and more about how a DJ engages with and affects the environment they find themselves in. I also love to see DJs set a particular atmosphere and then take a chance or make an unexpected turn. This is a great way to unlock energy at a party, and I think dancers are often up for this. As for a club, of course the quality of the sound system is a primary concern. We are very fortunate in that regard here in New York. It's also very important that a club space cultivates a positive and safe environment, so people can open up and feel comfortable getting lost. How do you see the current music industry? You have hope? I think we are in an equally challenging and exciting time for music. There are so many people starting labels, opening venues, feeling empowered to create and engage with music. There are many artists taking control of their careers and output. Music is easier than ever to make and share. I love seeing this growing decentralization and diversity. Meanwhile, the challenges we face are as pressing as ever. How do we value music? How do we build healthy, equitable and inclusive structures for distributing music? How do artists and independent institutions support themselves? I think it's important to see these challenges structurally, both in the industry and as linked to larger, extra-musical circumstances.
Can an independent record store, venue, or gallery make rent in your city? Can an artist?
How much an individual needs to earn to survive, whether they have healthcare and housing, whether they are the victim of racist or sexist policies - these issues have a huge impact on whether someone is able to engage in cultural production. Could you tell us what your present and future projects are? Right now I am focused on the next two Bliss Point 12"s, from artists who inspire me a great deal. They'll both come out in the first half of 2022. I'm also working with some friends on launching a Bliss Point party in New York. The first was at one of our favorite spots, IRL Gallery, and the second will be at Jupiter Disco, another of the city's great club spaces. As for my own music, I'm taking a moment to experiment and figure out what the next release will sound like. In the meantime, I'm collaborating on a sample pack with my friend Stew at Ambient Fauna Sound. Keeping busy!